The statement is the latest development in an escalating feud between the Pentagon and conservatives.News broke Monday that Milley yelled back at Trump last summer over how to handle the racial-justice protests that had flared up across the country. Axios reported that the episode is chronicled in an upcoming book by The Wall Street Journal’s Michael Bender.
A spokesperson for Milley did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This marks the second time Trump has laid into Milley over the past week, after he called the general’s recent comments about critical race theory “sad” and “pathetic” on Friday.
Milley enraged conservatives during a fiery exchange with lawmakers last week when he defended the military’s studying of all theories during a House Armed Services Committee hearing. He pushed back against GOP lawmakers who have recently criticized the Pentagon’s efforts to combat racism and extremism in the ranks as making the armed forces too “woke.”
“I personally find it offensive that we are accusing the United States military … of being ‘woke’ or something else because we’re studying some theories that are out there,” Milley said.
“I’ve read Mao Tse-tung. I’ve read Karl Marx. I’ve read Lenin. That doesn’t make me a communist,” Milley continued. “So what is wrong with understanding, having some situational understanding about the country for which we are here to defend?”
Trump on Wednesday said Milley made the comments to “further ingratiate himself” with the Biden administration, “progressive Media and the Radical Left.” He called on Congress to defund such training programs, calling them “racist indoctrination” and “Marxist, racist anti-American propaganda” that “has no place in our Military.”
The former president also accused Milley of falsifying the story about a confrontation in the Situation Room last summer, calling the incident “totally Fake News,” and adding that “if he had displayed such disrespect for his Commander-in-Chief I would have fired him immediately.”
Bender’s forthcoming book will include an episode in which Milley confronted Trump last summer over the president’s efforts to put the general in charge of a military campaign to suppress racial justice protests, arguing that by law he was an adviser and not in command of troops, Axios reported. The New York Times first reported the episode, but Bender’s book will reportedly have new details.
“I said you’re in f—ing charge!” Trump reportedly yelled during the episode, to which Milley shouted back “Well, I’m not in charge!”
“You can’t f—ing talk to me like that!” the president said, according to the excerpt. The incident was reportedly resolved when then-Attorney General William Barr told Trump that Milley’s legal argument was correct.
Trump on Wednesday also laid into Milley for his handling of the protests, as well as the fallout from his walk by the president’s side across Lafayette Square to take part in a photo op after federal agents forcibly cleared the area of protesters.
The general “practically begged [Trump]” not to deploy active-duty troops to quell the riots, and issued an “embarrassing and groveling apology” for the Lafayette Square incident, which drew criticism for inappropriately politicizing the military. Milley apologized for the incident, saying “I should not have been there.”
“Instead of denouncing the rioters, he denounced himselfa humiliation for our Military,” Trump said Wednesday. “A year later even the Fake News had to admit that their Lafayette Square narrative was a giant lie. Milley, once again, looked like a fool.”